Urban Gardening 101: How to Care for your Balcony Garden

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How much would you love a balcony garden? For many people getting outside and connecting with nature is more important now than before the pandemic. Studies show that spending time surrounded by plants can improve the immune system, alleviate stress, and optimise productivity, mental alertness, and wellbeing. 

If you’re a strata dweller, starting a balcony or terrace garden is the ideal way to bring a piece of nature closer to you. A balcony garden is a must for a nature lover who lives in an urban setting because it allows you to connect with nature and grow your favourite veggies, flowers, and herbs. 

Here is a guide to turning a balcony or terrace into a peaceful and green space that allows you to bring nature into an urban landscape. 

a small, chic balcony garden space with iron chairs, natural rugs and woven blankets and stoolImage: Wayfair

Factors to consider when balcony gardening

Find out if your apartment building allows you to start a garden

Before transforming your balcony into an urban garden, find out if your apartment building allows it.

Check the rules to find out if you can bring plants on the terrace and what kind of plants are accepted. Some residential complexes prohibit homeowners from putting plants on their balconies, while others allow only flowers.

If you want to plant vegetables, ask the building landlord because they may deny planting them due to the pests and birds they attract. 

Consider the balcony’s structure

Do you know what the terrace’s structural load capacity is? Before you bring any flower pots or gardening accessories on the balcony, ensure it can withstand the weight of pots filled with soil.

Ceramic and terra cotta pots are quite heavy, so if your balcony’s structure isn’t sturdy enough, it may get damaged.

You may need to switch the ceramic pots with plastic, rice, or fibreglass containers.

If you want to grow your plants in flower pots use a lightweight soil mix to ensure they pose no danger to its structure.  Also, use pots that won’t blow over from the wind to create hazards for pedestrians. 

How will you water the plants?

a colourful balcony garden with lots of plants on blue shelves, a wicker chair with orange and yellow cushions, plus a door through to the flat or apartmentImage: Koopower

If you want to transform your rooftop terrace into an urban garden, it’s a long way to take jugs of water to irrigate the plants.

When the garden is farther away from your apartment, you might want to use self-watering pots or drip irrigation to provide the plants with the necessary amount of water.

However, before you create the watering system, ensure the excess water won’t rain down on your neighbours’ balconies or apartments (if you create the garden on the rooftop terrace). 

Take the weather into account

Rain should always be a factor to bear in mind when choosing balcony planters because you need to ensure the pots won’t allow the excess water to rain on your neighbour’s terraces.

Also, the weather will dictate the type of planters you have to use to prevent the plants from rotting or drowning. 

Local temperature is a crucial factor to consider. Stone or terracotta pots are ideal for warm climates instead of plastic pots that could get too hot in the sun and damage the flowers’ roots.

The specialists from Elho state that pots from natural materials are also great for cold climates because they insulate the roots and protect them from low temperatures.

If you live in an area with four seasons, bring the plants inside during the cold months to protect them from low temperatures.  

The available space

summer balcony garden with wicker chair and pink blanket, a few candles and pots plus a blue stripe rug and several tall plantsImage: Lights4Fun

How big is your balcony? If you have a small outside space, it’s best to start small. You can create a vertical garden to save space and use the balcony as a relaxing nook.

But as a beginner, it’s best to bring in a couple of pots and see how it’s going from there. Starting small helps you figure out how much time you have to garden and determine how much effort this activity requires.

Make use of wall space, no matter if you have a small or spacious balcony, to create depth. 

How to choose the right plants for your balcony garden

You surely want flowers and plants that thrive on your balcony garden. But because this is the first time you have considered planting flowers in the city; you don’t know what species to choose. It’s easy to fall head over heels for some herbs and flowers at the nursery because they look great, but you shouldn’t bring them home only because you like their appearance.

Let us provide some recommendations regarding the factors you must consider when picking plants for your balcony. 

Space – regardless of the size of your balcony or terrace, you can mix a variety of flowers and herbs to add vitality, character, and structure to your outdoor space.

you have a spacious balcony, bring in taller plants that could provide some extra shade during the hot summer days. Suppose you have a smaller terrace, build a vertical garden. 

Maintenance – some plants need more care and protection as they’re quite sensitive to weather elements. Also, your balcony might not get the same amount of sunlight the entire year, and you may have to move some plants around to ensure they are exposed to the amount of sunlight they need to grow healthy.

However, the task of maintaining your urban garden shouldn’t intimidate you because you can slowly learn everything about caring for plants. 

Sunlight – an essential factor to take into consideration is the amount of sunlight the balcony receives daily.

Does it face the morning or evening sun? Observe it for a couple of days to figure it out because it impacts the type of plants you can use. 

Cost of decorating the outdoor space – you probably prioritised furnishing your house interior and neglected the balcony, leaving it empty for a while. But now that you afford to spare some money, you want to transform the space and make it more welcoming.

Depending on your budget, you can use a couple of succulents to create a minimalist design or use plants with vines and ferns to create an urban jungle. 

You can grow plants and herbs at home from seeds and save money. Ask your friends if they have flowers or plants they want to get rid of and bring them home. 

Further Reading:

<< Garden Trends 2022 >>

<< How to Create a Relaxing Garden Hangout >>

 

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